November 14, 2011 Subject:
In Manhattan, gangster Martin Martin (Pat O'Brien), injured in a shootout and on the run from the police, decides to hide in a vacant house. There, he adopts an injured dog (the titular Johnny One-Eye) when it shows up into the hideout after being beaten and abandoned. He also meets with a little girl, who turns out to own the dog but couldn't keep it due to her mother's boyfriend having developed an aversion to it.
This is a low-budget, rather weak effort from director Robert Florey, who helmed the solid noir The Crooked Way a year before. It offers familiar gangster film elements: betrayals, shootouts, a singer/dancer wannabe girlfriend (played by the producer's wife), and a gangster on the run. There is also a limited redemption angle involving the dog, the girl and a tear-jerking finale.
The film was shot on location in Manhattan and provides brief glimpses at the Theater district and Central Park.
There is little star power in this film but acting was adequate. The plot is OK but not gripping, while dialog is perfunctory.
Three scenes do stand out: the gangster offering the little girl wild information about his identity; a scene that involves extracting a bullet from a gunshot wound (a similar scene is used to greater effect in He walked by night, a 1948 film noir available on the archive; and another where the gangster finds an ingenious way to meet his lawyer/adviser Lawbooks, who is under constant police surveillance, without drawing attention.
Otherwise, it is difficult to find anything about this film that really stands out and hasn't been done better in other projects.
As a redemption story, the film doesn't work quite out since the main character, although he shows a soft spot for dogs and children, remains committed to the gangster way of settling things until the end. St Benny the Dip (also set in New York City circa 1950, but in Brooklyn this time), which is also available on the archive, works better in that regard. It also offers a better cast and is more amusing, even though it is hardly a masterpiece either.
And as far as man's best friend goes, the comedy Behave yourself! is a better vehicle. It involves a dog and gangsters too, but under a different angle. And on the bonus side, it features Farley Granger and Shelley Winters.
The print has seen better days. The picture is blurry and the sound muffled. There is occasional pixelation. Details in low-lit scenes are difficult to see.